A bipartisan marijuana legalization bill is filed in Pennsylvania, New York puts legal weed sales at farmers markets on hold, and more.
Senate SAFE Banking Act Committee Vote Could Come This Month. Key senators have said they want to hold a vote on the long-awaited Safe and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (S. 1323) this month as the Senate reconvenes after the 4th of July holiday. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he would "like" to hold a vote this month but that "it depends" on whether unrelated bills the committee has already passed make it to a Senate floor vote.
Similarly, bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said legislators were "going to do a deep plunge now and try to set the stage, hopefully, for a markup when we return from break."
The bill, which repeatedly passed the House in previous years only to die in the Senate, would provide state-legal marijuana businesses with access to the financial system. Currently, the industry must deal almost exclusively with cash, leaving workers and owners vulnerable to theft and robbery.
New York Governor Delays Plan to Allow Legal Weed Sales at Farmers Markets. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is pausing a program to allow licensed marijuana growers and retailers to sell marijuana at farmers markets before it even got started. The Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) had announced the plan last month as part of an effort to help legal growers sitting on a mountain of weed -- more than 300,000 pounds -- because of the extreme slowness of opening up state-licensed retail outlets. Only 16 retailers and delivery services are open across the state.
But the Hochul administration made clear Wednesday that farmers market sales were not happening yet. "We are committed to the success of New York's equitable cannabis industry, and are always open to considering opportunities to strengthen the program. No final decisions have been made with respect to farmers markets," said Office of Cannabis Management spokesman Aaron Ghitelman.
The industry isn't happy: "The failure to roll out the farmer's market program is just the latest in OCM's long list of broken promises," said Rev. Kirsten John Foy, spokesman for the Coalition for Access to Regulated & Safe Cannabis. OCM has been ineffective at every turn; growers, CAURD licensees, disabled veterans, workers, consumers, medical cannabis patients and individuals harmed by cannabis prohibition are paying the price for its ineptitude -- all while the illicit market booms."
Pennsylvania State Senators File Bipartisan Marijuana Legalization Bill. Sens. Dan Laughlin (R-49) and Sharif Street (D-3) have introduced bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill 846, to legalize adult use of marijuana in Pennsylvania.
"Legalized adult use of marijuana is supported by an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians and this legislation accomplishes that while also ensuring safety and social equity," said Laughlin. "With neighboring states New Jersey and New York implementing adult use, we have a duty to Pennsylvania taxpayers to legalize adult-use marijuana to avoid losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax revenue and thousands of new jobs."
The legislation would grant licenses to sell marijuana to social and economic equity applicants while providing room for new and existing licensees to ensure demand in Pennsylvania is met. Moreover, it expunges non-violent marijuana convictions for medical marijuana patients, which has also been championed in a bipartisan fashion, and goes further to expunge all nonviolent marijuana convictions.
Delaware Begins Pilot Program to Test for Both Fentanyl and Xylazine. State health officials have launched a pilot program to test substances for the presence of both fentanyl and xylazine, the veterinary tranquilizer known as "tranq" that has now made its way into unregulated drug markets. The testing strips used detect the presence of either drug.
The test strip is the new HARMGuard FX test strip and cost about $3 each -- although the price could go down with bulk orders. The state initially ordered 500 of the test strips.